Polar Plunge Returns To Pittsfield To Support Special Olympics

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Last year's plunge raised about $11,000 for Special Olympics and LETR is looking to double that this year. Check out the photos from last year here.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — For the second year, people will voluntarily be jumping into a frozen Onota Lake.

But for good reason — to raise money for the Special Olympics.

The second annual Law Enforcement Torch Run Polar Plunge is returning on Feb. 15 after raising about $11,000 last year.

Organizers are hoping to build on that success by adding a chili/chowder fest and an on-ice miniature golf course.

"We're hoping this turns out to have the winter carnival atmosphere," said Darren Derby, a city police officer who is one of the volunteers heading the effort, adding that the plunge could replace the carnival the city stopped holding.

Derby said four local restaurants have already signed on to donate chili and chowder and he hopes to get a least two more. For those who don't want to jump in the lake, they can just purchase tickets to the food festival and watch the others. But those who do jump into the water will get free tickets.

Teams of plungers have already signed up and began raising money. Last year, many of the teams dressed in costumes.

Meanwhile, if weather permits, Baker's Golf Center will be setting up a miniature golf course on the ice. Derby has already asked city schools to get involved; if the students raise a certain amount of money, they will be able to pick a teacher to do the plunge.

"My goal is to hit the $20-$25,000 mark," Derby said. "We're sponsoring it but 100 percent of the proceeds goes to Special Olympics."

Those taking the plunge are asked to raise $100 and can register online. Otherwise, registration can be done the morning of the plunge starting at 9. Individuals or teams of plungers will start plunging into the lake at 11 a.m. and the chili festival will kick off after the final jump.

An alcohol vendor will also be on site to provide post-plunging services and a bonfire will be burning to warm everyone up.

The plunge is just one of a series of new events the Law Enforcement Torch Run has launched in the county. The annual Cop on Top raised $51,000 in its fourth year in December. Last April, the group launched its first Run from the Cops 5K race in Williamstown, which Derby said he is currently working on organizing for this upcoming spring.

In the future, Derby said they are looking to hold bed races at Third Thursday and a "pluck a duck" raffle at Live on the Lake.

Tags: fundraiser,   Pittsfield Police,   Special Olympics,   winter event,   

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